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Desks vs. Tables for Your Home Office or Workspace


Big decision here: do you get a table for a desk or a nice, storage rich desk for your home office or workspace at home? We thoughtfully compare and contrast both options.

Photo showing a table style desk and built-in desk

My desk throughout college was an old dining room table.  It had no drawers or cabinets.  Just a simple four-legged table.  It did the job.

These days, I have desks with drawers and cabinets in both of my offices (home office and leased).  What do I prefer?  I prefer a desk, but I’d have no problem using a cool table.  I like a desk because of the storage options.

Many people in the market for a home office work surface often opt for a table or use an older table lying around.  This article examines the pros and cons of both desks and tables as a work surface in a home office or elsewhere in the home.

Desks

Home office with large built-in desk

Desks are the ideal piece of furniture for your home if you are going to be doing work and you need a place to store your computer, paperwork, supplies, and files. It is very easy to pull a chair up to a desk and work for a long period of time, and the flat surface will be at the perfect height so that you are comfortable while you are working. In addition, since they are specifically made and de signed so that you have a place to work, they usually have shelves or drawers to store your materials and supplies. They generally sit on legs, although some can be mounted or built into a wall. It’s easy to mentally get into the zone when working at a desk, and when you are interrupted, it’s simple to walk away and leave behind the work that you’re doing. Having a defined physical space where you can work or study makes it easy to focus without having to worry about distractions.

This is perfect if you need a dedicated place to work and do not want your things to be disturbed, even if you leave your desk for a long period of time. It’s normal for desks to “belong” to one person and for that person to store all of their work and personal belongings at the desk without having to worry about someone else coming along and moving or taking their items. While tables do have their own benefits, desks are preferable because they create a specific space for working or for studying. This makes it much easier for the user to focus when they are at the desk and less likely that they will suffer from distractions. If you need a dedicated space in your home where you can be sure that you will not be disturbed, a desk is an ideal solution. Even large desks do not offer enough room for other members of the family to come and set up their own activities while you are working.

Pros

  • Because of the implications that they “belong” to one person, desks are ideal if you don’t want to have anyone else in your family touching or moving your things.
  • It’s easy to stretch out and relax at a desk, and since there are drawers and shelves to store any necessary items, everything you need will be within arm’s reach. This make it easy to sit for a long period of time and quickly get work done without worrying about where your needed items are.
  • Ergonomic chairs will easily fit into a desk and will ensure that it is comfortable and in the correct position while working. This limits back and neck strain and allows people to work for long periods of time.
  • Desks come in a number of sizes, styles, and materials, so you can easily find one that will fit your budget and also match the décor and appearance of your home.
  • Large desks offer enough space for a lot of information and paperwork to be spread out while still being contained in one area. This makes it very easy to keep a handle on the work that you are doing without losing anything.
  • Smaller desks can fit into any nook or corner of a room and instantly create a mini-office. In addition, due to their small size and weight, they can be easily moved around if you need to relocate your computer for any reason.
  • Students who regularly study at a desk will associate the space with learning and will have a much easier time focusing and concentrating.
  • Walking away from a desk will often trigger a mental switch in people that allows them to “turn off” the work or school that they have been doing and enjoy other activities with their family or friends.

Cons

  • Desks are generally only comfortable if you are sitting at them.
  • While you can pull up more chairs to the desk if you want to show others what you are working on, they will not be as comfortable as you will be. This is because the desk will not have legroom built into it for other chairs.
  • Desks are fairly single-use, especially if they have been set up for a home office. This means that once the computer and calendar have been placed on the surface of the desk, they are generally never removed. Therefore, this is not an ideal piece of furniture for homes that need furniture which can function in a number of ways.
  • If you want a flat surface where family members can enjoy a number of different activities, a desk may not be the best choice for you.

Tables for Desks

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Home office with a table for a desk

Tables are pieces of furniture that have a flat and level surface that can be used in a variety of ways. They have legs that hold them up, although there are some tables that can be installed into a wall and only drop down when they are needed. This is not a common variation of a table, however, and is mostly used in very small homes where space is tight and a traditional table will not fit. Due to their flat surface, tables can be used for a number of different purposes. They come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials, and can be plain or ornate, depending on the preference of the owner.

This piece of furniture is ideal for use in homes where people need a flat surface that can be used in a number of ways. They are preferable to desks in homes where there is not enough space to have a flat surface that is dedicated to work or studying, since they can be used in so many different ways.

Pros

  • While you can easily bring a number of chairs up to a table that has legs, pedestal tables are even easier to crowd around, allowing a large number of people to sit together at once.
  • Tables often come in sets with chairs that match the style and shape of the table, but it’s also fun to buy a table and chairs separately, creating an eclectic and one-of-a-kind look that nobody else will have.
  • It’s easy to buy tables in a number of different sizes or shapes, which not only ensures that the owner can express their personality, but also that the table will easily fit into the décor scheme and match the other furniture in the home.
  • They have a number of uses and can switch from a place to eat or study to a location for games or art very quickly, without having to move a computer or lots of cords.
  • It’s much easier to collaborate with other people on a project, read together, or work on art with others when you are seated together at a table rather than at a desk.
  • They are often a little taller than desks, making them perfect not only for working while sitting, but also for working while standing.
  • Large enough tables can have multiple people working on them at once without anyone getting in each other’s way.
  • Tall tables offer the same utility that shorter tables do but have an increased presence in the room and will change the overall feel of the space.
  • Some tables have very thin, fine legs as well as straight lines. These details make the table appear much more visually light and keep the piece of furniture from feeling heavy and overwhelming the room.
  • Ideal for homes that need both a place to work and a place to eat, tables offer a lot of flexibility and can take the place of a desk as well.
  • Homes that have a dedicated dining room will look empty without a dining room table in them. These can be set for company or a party days in advance, taking a lot of the stress of last-minute preparations off of the host or hostess.

Cons

  • Unless you opt for an end or coffee table, there will not be any built-in storage in your table, and these options are too small to eat or work at, although they do have their use in living or family rooms as they provide space for games, remotes, or snacks.
  • It’s easy for people to crowd around a table, making it very difficult for someone who is studying or working to be able to focus on the task at hand.
  • Because they are not a dedicated work or study space, if a person gets up from the table, all of their items may be moved by another member of the family who needs the space. This can be very disruptive for everyone involved.
  • Because tables are generally heavier and larger than desks, it’s much more difficult to move a table around a room or home, and depending on its size, there may be only place where it can easily fit.
  • Since tables are usually eaten at as well, anyone who works at a table has to be very wary of spills or stains affecting the quality or appearance of their work.
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